Se­nate GOP likely to block vot­ing leg­is­la­tion

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY WILLIAM DOU­GLAS AND EMMA DUMAIN Emma Dumain: 202-383- 6126; em­ma_­du­main

WASH­ING­TON

House Democrats are launch­ing an am­bi­tious ef­fort to re­pair the land­mark vot­ing rights law that was frac­tured by the Supreme Court in 2013, with lead­ers ey­ing field hear­ings in North Carolina, Flor­ida, Texas, Ge­or­gia and other states.

They are un­der tremen­dous pres­sure from their sup­port­ers to de­liver.

Though Democrats will run the House next year, the Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate is not likely to con­sider any leg­is­la­tion ad­dress­ing the Vot­ing Rights Act that gets passed in the House.

“States run elec­tions. Let’s keep it that way,” said Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-South Carolina, likely the next chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee that would have ju­ris­dic­tion over the mat­ter.

Fresh off their midterm elec­tion vic­to­ries, how­ever, Democrats want to show re­sults – and fast. They are plan­ning as their agenda-set­ting leg­is­la­tion for 2019, a bill they’ve branded as “HR 1.”

It will pack­age to­gether a num­ber of “good gov­ern­ment” mea­sures to in­crease trans­parency in rules gov­ern­ing cam­paign fi­nance trans­ac­tions, im­pose new eth­i­cal stan­dards on fed­eral of­fi­cials and make it eas­ier to vote.

Many Democrats want to re­store a key pro­vi­sion of 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act as part of that pack­age, ea­ger to cap­i­tal­ize on the vot­ing con­tro­ver­sies in gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tions in Ge­or­gia and Flor­ida, where there were com­plaints of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

In a con­fer­ence call with re­porters Thurs­day, Rep. John Sar­banes, DMary­land, said this task could be ac­com­plished “within the early weeks of the next Congress” if hear­ings are “done on a fairly ag­gres­sive sched­ule.”

In June 2013, the Supreme Court struck down this pro­vi­sion of the law that re­quired some or all of 15 states and ju­ris­dic­tions with a his­tory of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion at the polls to get fed­eral ap­proval, or pre-clear­ance, be­fore chang­ing their vot­ing rules.

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